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Old 12-26-2008, 09:30 PM   #1
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Possible mistake in the Joy of Cooking?

I was reading through the section on pancakes in the joy of cooking and ran across something odd. They give a recipe for pancakes:
1.5 C flour
3 T sugar
1.5 t baking powder
0.5 t salt
1.5 C milk
3 T unsalted butter
2 eggs
then they give say for buttermilk pancakes to replace the milk with buttermilk and add 0.5 t baking soda.

This strikes me as wrong in three different ways:

  1. Buttermilk is thicker than milk (at least it always has been in my experience) so more buttermilk should be used.
  2. More leavening is added (the baking soda) but none of the baking powder is removed. So the pancakes are going to get extra leavening... My understanding is that 4x as much baking powder should be removed as baking soda added.
  3. Not enough baking soda is added. The proportion that seems standard is 0.5 t baking soda to 1 C buttermilk, so as to keep the ph neutral (buttermilk is acidic, baking soda is basic).

Am I missing something here? I know that questioning the joy of cooking is like spitting on the bible - but still... This just strikes me as being so flagrantly wrong.

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Old 12-26-2008, 09:48 PM   #2
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That all looks right to me.

The acid in the buttermilk calls for the use of baking soda...and no, you don't leave out the baking powder.

Just follow the recipe correctly, and I'm sure all will be well. Joy of Cooking is to be trusted.
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Old 12-26-2008, 09:51 PM   #3
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I have been making that recipe for almost 30 years, and I made it for Christmas breakfast along with Latkes. It's the first recipe in the pancake section, and my family loves it. I always take the egg whites and whip them almost stiff, then fold them into the batter after it's all mixed. I also use just 1-1/4 C of milk so the batter has a little more body and the pancakes are nice and fluffy.

I think you're over-analyzing the recipe. Have you made the buttermilk recipe or are you just questioning the recipe untested?

Joe
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Old 12-26-2008, 09:53 PM   #4
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Consider that the baking soda is there to neutralize the added acidity of the buttermilk rather than to provide leavening as its primary function. Then the baking powder can function as it should.

I'm not sure the thickness of the buttermilk as compared to whole milk will matter.
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Consider that the baking soda is there to neutralize the added acidity of the buttermilk rather than to provide leavening as its primary function. Then the baking powder can function as it should.

I'm not sure the thickness of the buttermilk as compared to whole milk will matter.
But it's not like the baking soda doesn't provide leavening since it's being used to balance the ph! I mean - adding 0.5ts of baking soda is more than doubling the leavening! That's double the CO2 released... Double the fluffyness... etc.! Is the amount of leavening used really that imprecise of a measure?

And the recipe just calls for milk - I just assumed that meant something normal like skim or 2% - wouldn't it specifically call for whole if it meant whole milk?
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeV View Post
I have been making that recipe for almost 30 years, and I made it for Christmas breakfast along with Latkes. It's the first recipe in the pancake section, and my family loves it. I always take the egg whites and whip them almost stiff, then fold them into the batter after it's all mixed. I also use just 1-1/4 C of milk so the batter has a little more body and the pancakes are nice and fluffy.

I think you're over-analyzing the recipe. Have you made the buttermilk recipe or are you just questioning the recipe untested?

Joe
I'm an engineer - I over analyze everything - it's what I'm paid to do! I haven't made these - but I have a bit of a pancake obsession (I make a different kind every week) so I'm pretty comfortable looking at a recipe and spotting oddities.

I've read about people beating the whites - but I've yet to have a chance to try it. Do you still mix in the yellows with the wet ingredients or do you leave those out entirely? Is the difference that noticeable?
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Constance View Post
That all looks right to me.

The acid in the buttermilk calls for the use of baking soda...and no, you don't leave out the baking powder.

Just follow the recipe correctly, and I'm sure all will be well. Joy of Cooking is to be trusted.
I was taught to always question the authorities. I think I'm a bit of a rebel without a cause...

I don't mean to leave out baking powder entirely. I just mean that you should try to maintain the same amount of leavening as there's no reason (that I know of) that buttermilk pancakes would need more leavening than plain milk pancakes.
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Old 12-26-2008, 11:09 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by uoficowboy View Post
...And the recipe just calls for milk - I just assumed that meant something normal like skim or 2% - wouldn't it specifically call for whole if it meant whole milk?

"normal" milk in a recipe is whole milk. Lower fat milks are called out specifically if that's what the recipe creator intended. Lower fat milks are typically only used on low fat or low cal recipes.
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Old 12-27-2008, 07:32 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by uoficowboy View Post
I'm an engineer - I over analyze everything - it's what I'm paid to do! I haven't made these - but I have a bit of a pancake obsession (I make a different kind every week) so I'm pretty comfortable looking at a recipe and spotting oddities.

I've read about people beating the whites - but I've yet to have a chance to try it. Do you still mix in the yellows with the wet ingredients or do you leave those out entirely? Is the difference that noticeable?
I spent 12 years as Machine Design Engineer until my wife threatened to leave me because I was so A/R. I can feel your pain, but I have to say that is up to YOU to seek out professional help if you ever expect to fit into mainstream cooking. Unlike creative cooks who try to bend the "rules" of cooking and baking, you feel the need to make everything fit properly into its own little cubicle and not contaminate the other ingredients. If you continue down this path you will never experience the "WOW" factor that comes from stepping outside the box of conformity, and you'll forever be trapped with food that is somewhat boring (like a lot of engineers). Yep, I can say it because I was there, and I'm so much happier since I broke free from the chains of conformity that Cleveland Engineering Institute put on me. Quit beating yourself up and just make the darn pancakes before we have to send in someone to take away your spatula.

Oh, I make this recipe with 2% milk, even though they don't specify what kind. I do this because I no longer care that they did not specify what kind, but mostly because that's what we keep in the fridge. The egg yolks go in with the other ingredients, and yes it makes a difference. Without the egg yolks the pancakes would be blah. And beat those whites intil they have nice peaks, then fold them into the batter.

This should drive you crazy (get a paper bag ready to breathe into); I dump everything into the mixer before turning it on, except for the egg whites. There is no distinction of wet or dry ingredients, and the doggone pancakes come out nice & fluffy every time.

OK, sit down and breathe into the bag. This is all part of the program to release you from the bondage of Engineerism and get you back into the mainstream of cooking. It's a form of shock therapy.

Enough from me. Time for one of our other therapists to step in.
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Old 12-27-2008, 09:04 AM   #10
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I have the JOC 2006 Edition, and the recipe is slightly different. It does however say for buttermilk pancakes to reduce the baking powder, add baking soda, and substitute buttermilk for milk.

BTW, somewhere within a reference section of that tome it should say that recipes that call for milk are calling for whole milk unless otherwise specified...

P.S., I'm an engineer and I cook as a hobby to explore my creative side and get away from using the engineering side of my brain!
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